A little something you should know about us: we’re all about getting your blood flowing, and the one organ we really want to make swell is your brain. (We don’t want to inflame it, of course. This is figurative.) There’s nothing more attractive than a mind that’s just throbbing with smarts, save for a mind that’s well-educated on sex and human sexuality. Hopefully you’ll find that the following movies and TV shows get you hot under the collar and around your gray matter.
1. Kink: Ever wondered what the fetish scene is like in Canada? Wonder no longer! “Kink” doesn’t just give you a guided tour of Canadian clubs and dungeons, it gets you deep in the world of doms, subs, tops, bottoms, and other participants from all walks of life, shows you what they’re like at home, at work, and at play. One of the cool things about “Kink” is that a lot of it is shot on handheld camera using whatever light is available, so you get a more realistic sense of what goes on underground.
2. A Wink and a Smile: The Art of Burlesque: Live burlesque routines are amazing, and if you’ve never seen one, you need to find the nearest show and buy tickets ASAP because it is breathtaking. If you’re familiar with how it goes and what it looks like, or if you perhaps think burlesque performers are evil harlots sent to flood the world with sin, then you should definitely check out this documentary. It follows ten women as they go through a semester at Seattle’s Academy of Burlesque, showing you the trials and triumphs of these young artists leading up to their final graduation performance.
3. Strange Sex: TLC’s “Strange Sex” has a bit of a bad reputation for casting its subjects in a questionable light (and even the Netflix description indulges in uncomfortable hyperbole, saying that the people in this show deal with “extreme sexual disorders and anomalies”), but if you can put aside all of the silly analysis and commentary, it’s an interesting look at people with different views and vibes relating to sex. Some people have balloon fetishes, some squirt, and some people simply like dating others who are much older or younger; it’s a nice survey of sexuality.
4. American Swing: Ever hear of Plato’s Retreat, the most notorious swingers’ club of 1970s New York City? We hadn’t either, but then we watched “American Swing” and we learned about how Larry Levenson got the place up and running with the help of shady investors and a few odd public access commercials. It’s a great time capsule of a movie: you get New York before it became family-friendly as well as semi-public sex before AIDS became a household word.
5. Storyville: The Naked Dance: If you really feel like seeing how your predecessors got freaky, you should check out this documentary on the completely legal red light district that thrived in New Orleans from 1898 until the Navy shut it down in 1917. You get jazz, booze, Victorian morals, racy pictures from way back in the day, and stories about the 2,000 prostitutes who worked those sixteen square blocks of paradise. You can’t hide your smutty past, America, we know what you’ve been up to!
[At top: Inga Ingenue's balloon dance, as seen in "A Wink and a Smile: The Art of Burlesque" (movies.netflix.com)]